The Collar Over The Lapel Was So '70s. What Was Up With That?

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Left: John Travolta as Tony Manero in 'Saturday Night Fever' (1977). Right: Jack Nicholson at a movie premiere on January 31, 1978. Source: IMDB; Ron Galella via Getty

It's the '70s men's fashion look that no one is talking about: the shirt collar worn over or outside the lapels of a jacket. Today we tackle this old style head-on: The collar outside the lapels, what was up with that?

'70s fashion goes beyond bell bottoms, platform shoes and polyester. In some ways, those are easy, costumey signifiers of '70s style -- the outrageous stuff we see in vintage photos of Studio 54 and disco nightclubs. The collar-over-the lapel look was one that became popular among celebrities and regular folks of all ages and fabulousness. John Travolta did it, the Bee Gees did it, Jack Nicholson did it, Lee Majors did it -- but so did the guy placing $2 bets at the horse track. These days, it's a cheesy throwback associated with gangsters and lounge lizards, but it was legit once upon a time. Surely this is a look that will never come back. Right? Don't be so sure. (And don't call us Shirley.)